Teachers and educators are developing an exciting new community dedicated to inspiring the next generation of innovators and scientists.
As our world faces existential threats such as climate change and ocean plastics, educators play a critical role in equipping students with the knowledge and skills to build a healthier and more sustainable future for our planet. Green chemistry is an upstream, preventative, solutions-oriented approach to creating a healthier future. Through the application of green chemistry, scientists and innovators can prevent the generation of pollutants and toxic compounds before they’re ever released into the environment or exposed to humans and animals, rather than cleaning up those pollutants afterward.
To enable and inspire the next generation of scientists and innovators to work sustainably, green chemistry must be taught widely in science and chemistry education programs. Cue the Green Chemistry Teaching and Learning Community (GCTLC), a joint initiative by Beyond Benign and the American Chemical Society (ACS) Green Chemistry Institute.
Being developed in collaboration with educators from across the U.S. and the world, the GCTLC will be a central online space where teachers, industry leaders and students can share best practices and resources, connect and collaborate, receive mentorship and feedback, and help each other through peer-to-peer learning.
In this Q&A, GCTLC Program Manager Dr. Jonathon Moir shares the goals, structure, and progress of this exciting new community.
What is the GCTLC?
Jonathon Moir: The GCTLC is a virtual online community space set to launch in 2023 that will help transform chemistry education programs across the globe. It will include a library of open-access green chemistry education materials, spaces for online collaboration and networking, discussion forums, and more.
Our mission is to create, develop, and nurture a diverse and accessible online community of practice that fosters a strong sense of belonging. We want to support open collaboration, networking, mentorship, and resource-sharing between members of the scientific community to advance the integration of green chemistry across the education continuum. We hope to build a teaching and learning community that empowers responsible global citizens with the knowledge, skills, and tools to transform science education, address grand challenges, and ensure a sustainable future for all.
Why is the GCTLC being formed using a “Community of Transformation” model?
JM: One of the most effective methods for reforming STEM education and addressing challenges is through communities of transformation (CoTs). CoTs are related to communities of practice, but create much more profound and deep, meaningful change; they consist of groups of individuals who share a common philosophy and embody that philosophy in their day-to-day work. They form a network of peers that can support each other in making change, allowing members to provide mentorship and guidance to one another, and in so doing not only change the way education is practiced but fundamentally transform how teaching is thought about and approached, permeating all aspects of it (from assessments to lecture slides to lab skills development to contextualization of course material). For more on this, I recommend watching Beyond Benign Executive Director and Co-Founder Amy Cannon’s talk on the GCTLC and Communities of Transformation.
Who is leading the development of this initiative?
JM: Developing a platform such as the GCTLC requires a dedicated and cross-disciplinary team on the administrative side, which is being led by Beyond Benign and the American Chemical Society Green Chemistry Institute. Last year I joined Beyond Benign to lead the GCTLC’s planning, development, launch, and growth, and the experience has been incredibly rewarding. Getting to work with educators and community members who are passionate and dedicated to green chemistry (more so than in any other sector I have encountered) is truly inspiring. I wanted to deeply understand the needs of the community to help make the platform a success, and so immediately began connecting with stakeholders and partner organizations across education and industry.
The GCTLC Leadership Committee was formed at the beginning of the project and has been the heart and soul of the program. The committee includes 20 members from various areas across education (postsecondary learning, K-12, industry, and information management) and from diverse backgrounds and geographies. This group has been working diligently through subcommittees, with each group focused on a strategic action for the GCTLC platform, namely:
- Developing, distributing, and sharing accessible, high-quality green chemistry education resources;
- Creating opportunities for open collaboration, networking, and mentorship;
- Driving awareness and adoption of green chemistry; and
- Ensuring Diversity, Equity, Belonging and Respect (DEBR) within the community and on the GCTLC platform.
What is the timeline for the launch of the program?
JM: The program is set to launch in 2023. Last year we focused on strategy, community-building, and research. Now with our strategic priorities set and our leadership committee and subcommittees in full swing, we will begin the development of our online platform. The GCTLC will host online spaces for collaboration, networking, mentorship, and peer-to-peer learning for educators, students, and industry stakeholders, as well as a searchable online database of green chemistry education materials. Additional features will include discussion forums, working groups, event listings, job boards, and more. The timeline is approximately 12 to 16 months from start to launch.
The subcommittees of the Leadership Committee will also be hard at work over the next year laying the groundwork for the new platform. This will include finalizing recommendations for resource submission and review criteria for the online library; assessing the needs of various audiences; recommending peer learning and mentorship, as well as professional development opportunities and functionality for GCTLC users; and advising on issues related to DEBR in online communities of practice.
Lastly, we’ll be working on outreach to build our community through virtual networking, online presentations, and in-person presentations at conferences throughout the summer and fall.
How can I learn more?
JM: To stay up to date on our progress, sign up here. And most importantly, please invite your colleagues to join you. Our community is being built for you and by you, and we want everyone to benefit from it! If you have any questions or would like to collaborate on this initiative, please reach out to me!